Silver splitters are putting significant pressure on care system, MP warns

Give elderly couples the support they need to stay together or we will face ‘escalating’ pressure on the car system, Tory MP Andrew Selous warns

When family breakdown is mentioned in the media it almost almost always the impact on children and younger adults that is referred to.

Last year New Philanthropy Capital and Relate highlighted the importance of strong couple relationships in later life.

The number of divorces for the over 60s , the silver splitters as they called, has increased by 30 per cent in the last decade and the Office for National Statistics shows the number of over 75s living alone has increased by over a fifth since 1996.

This says to me that local authorities and the Department of Health should recognise the very big interest they have in strengthening marriages and couple relationships in order to stop adult social care costs from increasing even more rapidly than they are projected to.

A friend recently told me that between them his parents had one set of eyes that worked, one set of ears that worked and one set of legs that worked. They lived together with minimal support. Had they split up the care costs for both of them would have been significant.

We know that long term conditions like dementia and stroke are increasing often necessitating high levels of care. Those costs will be higher still if couple separation rates are high.

The Government has bolstered marriage and relationship support and is undertaking a family stability review to see what more can be done to reduce family breakdown.

The Department for Education has just undertaken an evaluation of the marriage and relationship support programmes it has funded which showed returns of £11.50 for every £1 spent on the work of Marriage Care.

As David Cameron said in 2008 , “helping people maintain strong relationships is not some fluffy alternative to reducing budget deficits – it is the way to reduce budget deficits, by reducing the demands on the state caused by family breakdown”.

He was right then and he is right now but the scale of the task is huge and it needs concerted cross government action to help this country live within its means and to reduce the social and emotional costs of family breakdown.

To read more, visit The Telegraph website.

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